Only fitting that Catawba Valley freshman Trae Starnes saved the mother of all pitching performances for Mother’s Day — that same day his team faced elimination in the Region X/Southeast District tournament.
Behind Starnes’ five-hit performance on the mound, the fourth-seeded Red Hawks baseball team staved off elimination, knocking out third-seeded Pasco-Hernando (Fla.) 7-1 at the Burlington Athletic Stadium.
It was the first nine-inning complete game thrown by any CVCC pitcher this spring.
“It was unbelievable,” Starnes said of his pitching performance. “I felt really good today. It was just a blessing. I felt a little bit (of pressure). (Pasco-Hernando) had a double down the line, and I had a hit batter, but besides all of that I tried to stay contained inside of the strike zone.”
With the victory, the CVCC baseball team (41-15) tied the program record for wins in a season, which was set in 2014.After giving up a single and a walk in the two of the first three batters he faced, Starnes — a left-hander from Taylorsville, N.C. — proceeded to retire 17 of the next 19 Bobcat batters he faced, including seven in a row.
The Red Hawk offense aided Starnes’ stout performance on the mound with an early lead. CVCC scored two runs in the second inning, including an RBI double by Cory Watt, to quickly pull ahead 2-0.
David Graves’ single in the fifth inning scored Garrison Burress to make it a 3-0 Catawba Valley lead, and CVCC padded its advantage with four runs in the eighth inning, including a two-RBI single from Burress and an RBI double by Jimmy Marcelli.
Starnes continued to hold the Pasco-Hernando bats at bay, and he finished his complete game by allowing just two walks, and he struck out three batters.
George Fernandez broke up the shutout bid with a solo home run to lead off the ninth inning for the Bobcats (36-18), but Starnes retired the final three batters he faced in the ninth inning in a row to seal his sixth win of the season.
The Red Hawks advance in the consolation bracket and face top-seeded Pitt on Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. The Bulldogs, who lost 11-7 to No. 5 Brunswick in winner’s bracket action on Sunday morning, defeated No. 7 Bryant & Stratton (Va.) 10-2 in consolation action on Sunday afternoon.
The winner of the CVCC/Pitt contest will play again at 5 p.m. Monday (or at least 45 minutes after the 2 p.m. contest) against the loser of No. 2 Patrick Henry and No. 5 Brunswick, who are playing Sunday night.